Monday, July 15, 2013

Opening my eyes to attendance

I'm happy to admit it-I was wrong. 100%- without a doubt!

During the last school year, like most counselors, I was in charge of attendance. Our attendance is not horrible but at the same time, it can always be improved. After setting up meetings with families, calling families, and sometimes not getting a response, I was starting to feel a tad bit frustrated with students who did not come to school repeatedly.

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about counselor academy. I was able to hear from a lot of different counselors about what they had been doing to improve attendance and the angle they were taking on it. Instead of calling the families when they did NOT show up, they were positively reinforcing the students when they DID show up! Research shows time and time again how positive reinforcement is stronger than negative- I KNOW THIS! I have known this since psychology 101 freshman year. Yet my brain was so fixed on the negative that I could not see the positive.

In addition to these new perspectives, I was told to read the book, Breaking Night by Liz Murray.  WOW! It opened my eyes to a world I did not know about. Liz was a product of drug-addicted parents and a homeless lifestyle. Attending school was probably the last thing on her parents mind; she was truant throughout most of elementary, middle and part of high school before she was able to take control of her life. She not only finished high school, but went on to Harvard. If you have time this summer, I urge you to pick up this beautifully written story and see for yourself what happens outside the walls of a school and the struggles that this girl faced.

My views of attendance have changed this summer and I will definitely be going back to school in the fall with a different perspective and a fresh look at how to improve attendance.

If you've read this book, let me know what you think! It was a game-changer for me, but... 

what about YOU?

Your Floridian Chick